Back in the height of the 2020 doom and gloom Sucker Punch and Sony released Ghost of Tsushima, a PlayStation 4 exclusive title set during a Mongol invasion of the titular Japanese island.
Now when someone mentions the words “Ghost of Tsushima” what comes to mind? Beautiful scenery? Gorgeous art style? Harrowing and immersive narrative? Beautifully composed soundtrack? Exciting and brutal combat? All of the above? For me, it’s all of the above.
Sucker Punch have managed to bring all the aspects that are present in a variety of games and mix them together to craft a piece of interactive media that has become a widely viewed masterpiece.
From the very start of the game, as you charge the invading Mongolian horde with the army of samurai at your side, Tsushima show off a small taste of what to expect from the game. A beautiful blend of action, narrative and breath-taking scenery and environmental design.
Following the events of the start of the game, having faced and ultimately had you ass kicked by the Mongol invaders, you then begin to explore the southernmost prefecture of the island. Here is where the environmental design comes into its own.
When I first played this, I was using a basic PS4 (not a Pro) and even with the lesser graphical power the game was still strikingly beautiful. Detailing and colour palette created a world that felt bright, vibrant and alive, from the falling leaves of the trees to the water effects and flower topped hillsides Tsushima was visually stunning.
The environment did a lot to add to immersion during my play through, juxtaposing the beautiful and picturesque setting with the striking and brutal combat, especially after unlocking the appropriate skills to properly take on each enemy type. The PS5 upgraded version took a game that was already beautiful and made it even more so. I am, unfortunately a person that notices the difference between 30FPS and 60, and Tsushima felt even better running at the greater frame rate.
In terms of the games approach to embedding the Kurosawa style of cinematography into its elements it truly shines with the duels against significant enemies. Even without the Kurosawa filter on, the cinematic start of each of these duels gives a real sense of the director’s artistic style being used as inspiration, and the game uses this to amazing effect.
The narrative of the game really focused on a simple story with ample twists, exploring the importance of family, honour and tradition contrasting the need to adapt in the face of a brutal and savage threat. And Ghost of Tsushima played this out masterfully, whilst providing deeper understanding of the world and its events through NPC side stories which ultimately fed into the overall plot.
Towards the end of the game the stakes and focus on the story escalate for a climactic finale that had the right balance of chaos yet with subtle nuances and quiet to bring the gameplay elements to, what felt like a natural, albeit tragic, ending.
See this masterpiece of a game for your self. Ghost of Tsushima for PlayStation
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